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Three Views: After Domestic Violence, Why Should a Christian Wife Call the Police, Not a Pastor, First?

Addressing a sin that afflicts 1 in 4 US women.
Three Views: After Domestic Violence, Why Should a Christian Wife Call the Police, Not a Pastor, First?
Image: Illustration by Harry Campbell

To Stop the Hurt

Tawana Davis

Pastors like me often want to solve others’ problems. We want to fix it, make it better, and help. We provide guidance through our own lens of experience, responding with empathetic listening, awareness, and patience.

A late bloomer to pastoring, I responded to the call to ordained ministry at age 36. Before then, from outward appearances, I had it all: a great job, home, car, and two beautiful children. Yet I was broken and needed healing.

In my brokenness, my husband became my protection. I created a false sense of happiness amid his controlling behavior. Verbal abuse turned into emotional, spiritual, and physical abuse in a matter of months.

Despite the violence, I wanted to fix my husband, so we went to counseling. We met with my pastor, a young man who was married with one child. Not understanding the persistent nature of domestic violence, my pastor spoke from his own limited experience, saying, “If he doesn’t stop, tell him he will have to leave, or you will call the authorities.” (Even though you never bargain with an abuser.)

In my ignorance, I followed his advice. It almost got me killed. My husband attacked me in our home. I thought I was going to die as he held his 220-pound body on top of mine. I realized a cell phone was nearby and was able to flip it open and hold number 9, the quickest way to dial 9-1-1.

The dispatcher sent the authorities to our home. My husband was arrested and later sentenced to jail. In the midst of all this, my pastor wanted to help but did not have the tools to do so. Once my husband was in jail, I relocated to Atlanta to attend seminary full-time. There, in 2008, a revelation hit me in the midst of my pastoral care ...

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